Highly mutated BA.2.75 strain now showing up in numerous countries, WHO warns

As India grapples with a spike in Covid-19 cases, a new Omicron sub-variant dubbed BA.2.75 has been identified across the country as well as ten other nations, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned last week. pass. The presence of the latest mutant strain has been reported in ten Indian states in total, from Tamil Nadu in the south to Uttar Pradesh in the north, the global health body’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan confirmed in an interview with the Times of India. India on Sunday. Outside the country, the subvariant has been detected in approximately ten countries, he tweeted. As reported by the Associated Press, these include Australia, Germany, the UK, Canada and the US, where a third case was identified last week.

BA.2.75 could potentially overtake other highly transmissible coronavirus sub-variants, including BA.4 and BA.5, which have become dominant in the US, UK, Germany and France by the end of June, as confirmed by the health authorities of these countries.

At a meeting to discuss the new strain last Friday, scientists from the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) said early data suggested BA.2.75 might be less severe, with most People who become infected are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. symptom. However, more studies will be needed to confirm whether the strain is indeed less serious, and whether it is leading the current rise in Covid facing India, experts say.

All countries should keep an eye on BA.2.75 as there are still not enough samples globally to test its severity, Swaminathan said in his interview. The high potential for transmissibility of the subvariant stems from mutations in its spike protein, the official added. She went on to elaborate “Since this is the key part of the virus that adheres to the human receptor, we must monitor its behavior. But it is still too early to know whether the subvariant has additional immune invasion properties or is clinically more severe.”

According to Dr. Ulrich Elling, Group Leader at the Institute for Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the spike protein of BA.2.75 has eight new mutations compared to the older BA.2 subvariant (vs. three mutations new for BA.5). While it is too early to tell if BA.2.75 will replace other subvariants, the fact that it is growing very fast in India, despite lower levels of viral surveillance, suggests it may still prove dangerous, the researcher said on Twitter.

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